Kevin: The news that Joss Whedon is exiting the planned Batgirl film because he “didn’t have a story” set up a lot of obvious jokes about how that’s never stopped any of these other recent DC comics films from getting made. Of course there has also been speculation that his departure is due to the totally shocking recent revelations that a dude who never shuts up about what a feminist he is might be protesting a bit too much (i.e. he’s another Hollywood creep who preys on vulnerable actresses). Either way, it looks like his one and only stint in the DC universe will remain the work he did on “Justice League” after original director Zach Snyder had to drop out following a family tragedy.
Since it is unlikely that we’ll ever get the “Snyder Cut” that some fans have been petitioning for, it appears that the version that came out in theaters last November is the one we are stuck with, for good and bad. The good in this case being some nice character moments and a group of heroes you’d like to see in more adventures, and the bad being a by-the-numbers plot and one of the shittiest villains ever put on screen. So today TGD flashes back to just a few months ago, when the sky was still the limit for both the world’s greatest heroes and Joss Whedon, in “Justice League”:
(Originally posted Nov. 27, 2017)
Kevin: So CJ even though we both finally got around to seeing “Justice League” last week, we completely went against the whole theme of the film by seeing it separately, while if the entire Tough Guy Squad had seen it together we could have been the most powerful reviewing team of all time. For the record, if we were to compare ourselves to the Justice League, I would say that Mike would be the Flash because of his crowd-pleasing wisecracks, CJ would be Wonder Woman because he is also a symbol of female empowerment, Anthony would be Superman because he shows up super late (plus it would be too obvious making him Cyborg since Anthony is also black and part robot), and I would be Batman, because like Ben Affleck I would be able to get in amazing shape for one movie and then show up bloated and hung over for the next one after thinking “ehh, I’m sure I can go out and just nurse a couple of beers tonight.”
(By the way, is Ben Affleck possibly the most relatable movie star of all time? He looked like a Greek god in “Batman v. Superman,” and all he had to do was maintain that for a few months before shooting “Justice League.” Unfortunately that in-between period coincided with football season, and Ben obviously couldn’t resist reverting back to getting drunk during Pats games and staying up late playing online poker and trolling Jets fans on message boards. It’s like the movie star version of the guy who gets into shape for his wedding photos but then packs on 10 pounds before the actual wedding two weeks and one bachelor party later.)
But back to the movie, let me just start by throwing out a few random thoughts. First, remember that weird slo-mo shot in the original teaser trailer of Cyborg playing football? (1:24 mark):
I remember thinking when I saw that, “Huh, I have a feeling that this will not appear anywhere in the actual movie,” and I was right. Unfortunately for Ray Fisher I am guessing that the Cyborg stand-alone movie is probably not going to happen, but if it were I would propose it should be a prequel that exclusively focuses on his college football days at GCU. No superheroics, no foreshadowing of his future Cyborgness of any kind (except one “wink wink” moment when he does the “robot” at the school dance or something), just a self-contained story about Cyborg almost being corrupted by rich alumni but rediscovering his values and still winning the big game against Gotham State in the Luthor Bowl (with a shot of a beaming Joe Morton in the stands).
Now what was up with that opening scene of Batman interrupting Holt McCallany in the middle of robbing some apartment, before being then interrupted by the flying mosquito monster? Considering Superman has been dead a year and the world has apparently turned to shit, you’d think Batman would have more important stuff to be focused on than stopping this one rooftop cat burglary that actually seems kind of quaint and nostalgic in retrospect.
We then get the dour opening credits in which we see exactly two examples that I guess are supposed to show how the absence of Superman has turned society into a fetid swamp of crime and corruption: 1) A guy knocks over some fruit and yells at a Muslim woman in a hijab (I’m guessing she’s Muslim, it could have been a southern Baptist who just likes the look). 2) A guy is homeless. That’s it. Uh, would either of these things really be at the top of Superman’s priorities list anyway? I’m pretty sure there were homeless people in Metropolis before Lex Luthor started creating unstoppable monsters and sending jars of piss to Holly Hunter.
Now CJ I think we both agree with the general consensus that The Incredible CGI Man (also known as ‘70s rock supergroup Steppenwolf) is the greatest villain in comic book and possibly movie history, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we may look back and wonder someday if maaaaaaybe he was not exactly a worthy first opponent for D.C.’s finest. You know who would have been though? Ed Harris’ rocket-launcher-wielding Secretary of State from “Geostorm.” Now that’s a guy who I could actually see not only defeating the Justice League, but also the Avengers and the heroic monsters who will eventually team up in Universal’s Dark Universe. Oh, Universal just cancelled that after “The Mummy” flopped? Never mind then.
I know I am getting ahead of myself here, but let’s talk about the scene later on when the Justice League use the last remaining Mother Box to bring Superman back to life (yes this is another superhero movie where a world-destroying villain needs several doodads in order to fulfill his evil plan). I will say that while I and the rest of America knew Superman would be resurrected somehow in “Justice League,” I did not expect that this would involve digging up his grave and stealing his corpse (by the way, how are they going to explain how Clark Kent is suddenly alive as well after a year?).
Anyway, after they revive Superman inside Zod’s spaceship (they really need better security in that thing considering how many times it has been broken into), they end up having to battle him while he’s still confused and disoriented in a pretty neat sequence, and after getting their asses kicked and watching him fly away, they turn around to see Steppenwolf – who apparently has been secretly following them while hidden behind a potted plant “Looney Tunes”-style – stealing the last box and using his Stargate portal to take him back to … wherever he hangs out when not stealing intergalactic MacGuffins and threatening to destroy the world. Honestly they could have practically done a “yoink!” sound effect here.
I have to say this is clearly on Batman, since as the only Justice League member without super speed or the ability to fly (by the way, can Aquaman fly? Seems like he can but still not sure), he should have been the one locking up the place and hiding the object that could destroy the world under the welcome mat before he left. Considering he was the one who convinced everyone to revive Superman – a plan that appears at first to backfire spectacularly – and he lectures everyone about the importance of not letting Steppenwolf have the last box, I would have loved if, after watching Steppenwolf be all “Ha ha, so long suckers!,” we got a scene of Affleck in the Batmobile re-enacting this moment from “Boogie Nights”:
CJ: I’d make a great Wonder Woman for two reasons. First, we have a shared dislike of Nazis (#TruthTalk), and second, we both love to beat up foppish British gentlemen who turn out to be the God of War. Also Kevin, everyone trolls Jets fans – why else would we have them?
Anyway, I was super confused by Cyborg in this movie. All he does for the first half is mope around feeling sorry for himself. Boy it must be tough being you dude, you can fly, have all the knowledge of the world, and are constantly discovering new and cool abilities every day! You know what I would do? I would run around seeing what kind of shit I could punch through; I bet it’s a lot of shit! After that I’d probably kill everyone who I felt had wronged me in my life. (Note to Kevin: Maybe delete this part where I freely admit I would go into full blown supervillainly within 15 minutes. That will not help me in court. Although I could probably blow up the court …)
Now going back to the beginning, the only thing missing from those opening credits would have been a shot of a five-year-old girl watching that very minor hate crime in progress as she slo-mo drops her lone daisy into a puddle. At which point the homeless man vomits all over it. Because he is drunk. And disgusting.
As far as Steppenwolf, as much as I enjoy the unstoppable villain type, they don’t actually show him doing anything to scare anyone. Think about it, every time he shows up he just screams “ARGH! I WILL DESTROY ALL OF YOU!” and then runs away while holding a box. We already have those types of folks in modern day America: they are called crazy people, and teens throw garbage at them.
But Steppenwolf does bring up one thing which has driven me nuts in other movies. For example, in “Thor: Ragnorak,” they show a brief snippet of a mega battle the villain Hela once waged, and in “Lord of the Rings” they show a vicious battle in which Sauron was first defeated. In “Justice League” we are once again treated to a snippet of what seems like an AWESOME battle royal of Steppenwolf vs. Greek gods, the Green Lantern Corps, Amazonians, Atlantians, Humans; basically everyone teaming up and kicking ass. And just like in “Thor” and “LOTR,” we quickly go back to a narrator who basically says, “but we all know that story, so no point in saying much more.” And just like in those movies, I must ask: “Why the hell don’t you make THAT the movie????”
(To read the rest of our “Justice League” review, please click HERE)